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Lorenzana to youth: Serve PH, join ROTC

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Photo from Department of National Defense

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana. Photo from Department of National Defense

MANILA, Philippines — Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Sunday urged all Filipinos, especially the youth, to heed the call to serve the country — a means of which is through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program in schools.

In a statement on Sunday, Lorenzana said that National Heroes’ Day should serve as a reminder that love of country was the foundation upon which the Philippines was built.

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“The act of defiance against foreign domination by our forefathers despite overwhelming odds planted the seed of Filipino nationhood that evolved to become what we are now,” he said.

“Today, we continue to defend and protect what they won for us by addressing any and all threats to our safety and security. Our brave soldiers valiantly put their lives on the line of fire 24 hours a day so our people can live in peace,” Lorenzana said.

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Service to country

For this year’s observance, the defense secretary encouraged all Filipinos, especially the youth, to serve the country.

“To perpetuate the culture of patriotism and heroism, it is our responsibility to teach the youth love of country and service to our people. One good way to instill and nurture love of country is through the ROTC program in our school system,” he said.

“I believe that ROTC can teach our youth leadership, discipline, respect for authority and service to country,” he added.

But Sen. Imee Marcos on Sunday said that forcing students to undergo ROTC was not a surefire way to promote nationalism and sway them into joining the military.

The neophyte senator said that even her father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, realized that the mandatory military training he enforced in 1967 was not effective in recruiting young Filipinos to enter the enlisted service.

“You cannot force young people to become soldiers. You cannot enforce the love of country,” Marcos said in a radio interview.

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“For me, [ROTC training] should just be optional because you can show your love for the country through other ways and not just in being a soldier,” she said.

As to the claim of the Armed Forces of the Philippines that requiring students to complete military service would prevent them from joining left-leaning organizations, she said: “The truth is, it doesn’t work that way.”

Won’t stop student activism

Citing her experience as head of Kabataang Barangay during her father’s martial law regime, she said that she herself saw that mandatory military training failed to stem student activism.

Marcos said that the military should be more creative and practical by focusing their recruitment in provinces known to have had consistently produced a number of soldiers and policemen in the past.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police paid tribute to national heroes and other nameless martyrs who made the supreme sacrifice for the country’s freedom.

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TAGS: compulsory military training, Delfin Lorenzana, ROTC
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